Lancashire Heeler

Lancashire Heeler
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The tiny Lancashire Heeler is family to Europe’s other beloved dogs: the Cardigan Welsh and Pembroke Welsh Corgis! This herding breed was originally used for hunting vermin like rats, and animals like rabbits, as well as herd livestock by nipping at them because they are so tiny! One of the most popular breeds in Great Britain, this small pup will steal your heart!

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Herding Dogs
Height:10 inches tall to 1 foot tall
Weight:13 to 15 pounds
Life Span:9 to 14 years

The Lancashire Heeler was originally bred to herd livestock, due to their short stature and ability to nip at the heels of the animals they were herding. They were also used to hunt down rabbits, mice, and other vermin, making them a perfect farming dog breed. Not only can they do the farm work, but they are a perfect breed for dog shows, agility trials, and other competitions like herding trials. They are also known as a very popular pet in Great Britain!

While the details of their exact origin are unknown, they are thought to have come from an area near Wales, England. It is known that in that area, the Manchester Terrier was bred, along with Welsh Corgis, both Cardigan and Pembroke, and the Lancashire Heeler was born and has been around for over 150 years.

This breed is known to live about 14 to 15 years, sometimes more, and they are generally healthy, with a few exceptions, such as Collie Eye Anomaly, Primary Lens Luxation, and Persistent Pupillary Membranes, as well as Patella Luxation. They usually stand between 10 inches and one foot tall, due to their short legs.

Overall, the temperament of the Lancashire Heeler is friendly and playful, and sometimes they are talkative! They are usually alert, very smart, and have lots of energy and love to partake in many different activities, which is great because it keeps their mind and body active. While they are friendly to family and friends, they might get aggressive with strangers, due to territory issues, so they may need training with that, and time to become familiar with some people.

The coat of this breed is smooth but has a harsh feel to it, with a possible mane around his neck. Generally, this breed is black and tan, but they also come in a liver and tan color, which is recognized by The Kennel Club, and generally weight up to 18 pounds if healthy. Some owners like to tip the dog’s ears which is acceptable to some, but many choose to keep the dog’s ears as they were made.

Main Highlights
  • The Lancashire Heeler is a small dog that is generally black and tan, and weighs upwards of 18 pounds and stands up to a foot tall.
  • Words to describe this breed include; smart, playful, friendly, full of energy, alert, and lovable! Who wouldn’t want a dog like that?!
  • While they love their family and friends, they are on alert with strangers and may become aggressive. Training in this area can help, along with time to become familiar with others. Socializing them as a puppy will help curb this behavior.
  • This breed was originally made to drive livestock north of Wales, England, along with killing rats and rabbits, or other small animals and vermin.
  • This breed can be affected by health issues and diseases such as Collie Eye Anomaly, Patella Luxation, Persistent Pupillary Membranes and Primary Lens Luxation. All of these are common for Heelers.
  • The Lancashire Heeler’s origins are not fully known but they are known to be family with the Manchester Terrier, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, all of Great Britain.
  • They are famously known for competing in dog agility trials and are best in obedience, rally obedience, flyball, herding, and showmanship events. The dogs that have the best sense of herding should be used in the herding events.
Breed History

While the details of their exact origin are unknown, they are thought to have come from an area near Wales, England. It is known that in that area, the Manchester Terrier was bred, along with Welsh Corgis, both Cardigan and Pembroke, and the Lancashire Heeler was born and has been around for over 150 years.

A woman named Gwen Mackintosh bred these dogs in the 1960s and helped to form the Lancashire Heeler Club in 1978, which is the club that set the breed’s standard. The Kennel Club recognized them in 1981 and they later stated that this Heeler breed was a “vulnerable, native” breed in 2006. However, this breed is still popular in its native land and it continued to be used as a farming or a herding dog as well as a beloved pet.


The size in which this Heeler grows is between 10 and 12 inches tall at the area of the shoulder. In most cases, with dogs, the females are shorter than the males, so you can expect the females to be more around 10 inches tall. If given proper nutrition and exercise, your Heeler should weigh between 13 and 15 pounds, and some get up to 18 pounds, healthily.

Personality and Character

The Lancashire Heeler has a great personality for the most part. They are active, talkative at times, very smart and train easily. They love to be outdoors hunting and herding animals, or just being a household pet. Occasionally, they can be stubborn and independent and get themselves into trouble, but having a firm and fair owner who lays down the law will help keep them in line. Using positive reinforcement will help keep them behave, as well as training and classes. Their personality and character are perfect for dog shows in which they can showcase their herding and agility abilities as well as obedience.

This breed should be socialized from the time that they are a puppy because they tend to be wary and aggressive with strangers at times, even though they are loving towards their family and friends.

Health and Potential Problems

For the most part, this breed is healthy with a few exceptions that are common in all Heeler dogs. If your dog displays any symptoms, please contact your local vet for examination and further testing and medications.

  • Primary Lens Luxation is a painful disease that causes blindness, especially in small dogs such as Heelers and Terriers. This occurs when fibers in the lens are weak, which then affects the vision of the dog, leading to blindness.
  • Persistent Pupillary Membrane is a condition that involves part of the fetal membrane that turns into tissue that goes across the pupil of the eye and will connect with the lens, iris, or cornea and it can cause cataracts.
  • Patellar Luxation in dogs is when the kneecap becomes dislocated from the thigh one and it causes pain in the dog. Your dog will need to be taken to the vet for x-rays and samples of blood and fluid. This may require surgery or a simple popping back into place, and only the vet can tell.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly is a genetic disease that attacks the retina, sclera, and choroid, which leads to blindness. This occurs when the eyes’ chromosomes are mutated which makes the choroid underdeveloped.
  • Cataracts occur in the lens of the eye and cause cloudiness; therefore will give your dog blurry vision. When they become thicker, the dog can go blind if surgery is not an option. Most times, genetics are the cause of this but injury, age, and other diseases can inhibit this type of degeneration.
  • Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to process sugars correctly. Check for the symptoms which include increased appetite, being really thirsty, and going to the bathroom a lot. A dog will live with diabetes for the rest of its life so it is important to get them on insulin shots and control what they eat.
  • Parvo Virus is a viral and very contagious disease that is either defined as the intestinal form, which is most common, or the cardiac form. The intestinal form has symptoms of weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. The cardiac form will affect the muscles in the heart. Parvo can lead to death and the dog should have shots to prevent this from happening.
  • Food allergies can be avoided if they are eating a proper dog food. Contact allergies could be from shampoos, powders and other chemicals in the house. Also, inhalant allergies can affect your dog because of pollen outside or dust and mildew.
  • Lyme Disease is a common disease found in dogs, and it comes from ticks that leave behind a bacteria that spreads in the dog’s body. This can cause inflammation and lack of use of the affected area. Some dogs lose their appetite and subsequently lose weight, and may become depressed. If the disease is very serious, the kidneys and nervous system can be affected.
  • Seizures can occur because of injury or some type of trauma, abnormalities in the brain, trouble with blood and organs, and being exposed to pollutants. While there is no cure, your dog can be helped with medication and possible surgery. It is also recommended they not swim, as they can have a seizure in the water and drown.
  • Urinary tract stones can occur within a Lancashire Heeler, causing pain akin to humans having kidney stones or urinary issues. This is very dangerous for the dog and it should be seen immediately by a veterinarian. Urinary tract stones can tear up the lining in the tract and cause blood to occur when the Corgi urinates. Symptoms including lack of energy, vomiting, urinary issues like having to go a lot or not at all.
  • Glaucoma is one disease that affects the Lancashire Heeler. This disease of the eyes occurs when pressure within the area builds and causes pain. The liquid within the eye drain may not drain properly and causes blindness or lack of clear vision, and damages the optic nerve in the eye. Glaucoma can be hereditary but can come from injuries or tumors.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a fancy term meaning loss of vision, which means the retina is losing the ability to process light. Most dogs of this breed who begin to suffer from retinal atrophy will first have a hard time seeing at night, and over time their vision will suffer when the sun is out. This can and does lead to full blindness, and is not treatable currently.
Care Features

The Lancashire Heeler is said to be great for agility trials. They are perfect for events that involve herding and obedience because of their nature to please and urge to hunt and gather animals. Other events that they are great for include obedience and other herding events. Before putting a Lancashire Heeler into an event, there are tests that can prove how good they are at competitive events. Training for these events happens when they are puppies, usually after 10 weeks, which is just after they learn to potty train.

Since this breed is so adaptable, they are comfortable being alone or with people, even though they love attention so they prefer being around humans as well as other animals. Don’t be surprised if your dog loves cuddles and wants to sleep in the bed with you! If sleeping in the bed is not possible, having a comfortable dog bed with a small blanket will allow them comfort. Also, if they whine, using an old shirt with their owner’s smell can help them relax.

Feeding Schedule

While puppies, this breed needs to eat 3 meals per day to gain enough nutrients and protein to help their bodies grow. They tend to be easy to please when it comes to food and will generally eat anything. As adults, this breed will need to eat twice a day; once in the morning and once at night. Always leave fresh water available for your dog. Using a dog food that is high in protein will help keep your Lancashire Heeler healthy and energetic. Choosing the right dog food is key as many dogs are allergic to one ingredient or the other. A veterinarian can help you decide what is best.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Lancashire Heeler has a beautiful but coarse coat that is black and tan for the majority of the breed, and liver and tan for the rest of the breed. They have a mane that goes around their neck which keeps them warm in the winter. This dog is not high maintenance at all and only needs the basics done each week. This means, once a week, you should brush their fur to get out any burrs or dead hairs. You need to check over their body for sores, rashes or scratches to make sure there is no infection.

Also, check their teeth, eyes, ears, and inside of the mouth for anything unusual. This breed does not need to be bathed often, so do it sparingly, just a few times per year or when they begin to smell bad.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Lancashire Heeler has lots of energy and is great for children as they like to run and play with them! They can play in the big open yard, run around or play Frisbee. This dog likes to have attention and is very playful. Some dogs of this breed may be wary of other pets in the home.

Socializing and introducing them to other dogs can calm their anxiety about it and help them to accept it. Overall, they should be fine with other pets in the home. They get along great with their family, children, and friends, but could be wary around strangers and become aggressive. Using training techniques can help stop this but they need time to acclimate to other people they do not know.

Overall, the Lancashire Heeler has it all! They are great farming dogs, doing the herding, some hunting and killing of vermin and rabbits. They make great pets for the home and for the children, as they have lots of energy and have a playful demeanor. If you like to put your dogs in shows and trials, they are perfect for agility and obedience and herding trials!

This breed has a happy demeanor, is smart, trains easily and is overall a great dog that anyone would be lucky to have. If you have an active life, can keep up with this dog and exercise it daily, this may be the pooch for you! And remember, they are one of the most popular breeds in Great Britain! Certainly, they cannot be wrong!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.